This cranberry chicken salad makes an amazing lunch or even dinner on the go. This is my favorite recipe for chicken salad, it has the perfect balance of sweet and sour flavors that you won’t be able to resist! It’s crunchy, creamy, but also refreshing! We love it as chicken salad croissant sandwiches or as lettuce wraps.
This delicious chicken salad is made with tender chicken breasts, sweet cranberries, crunchy pecans, celery, and apples, peppery green onions, and an amazing dressing made with mayo, sour cream, Dijon, and lemon juice.
I used pan-fried chicken breast for this recipe but you can also use leftover roast chicken, leftover turkey, or rotisserie chicken.
Instead of sour cream, you can add more mayo but sour cream adds tanginess to the salad and it’s also more calorie-friendly than mayo.
Instead of pecans, you can use walnuts or almonds.
You can omit the celery.
How to cook chicken for chicken salad
The quickest way to prepare chicken for chicken salad is just pan-frying it.
How to pan-fry chicken breasts:
- Cut 2 large chicken breasts in half horizontally (parallel to your cutting board) so you have 4 chicken cutlets. If the cutlets are still very thick in some parts, pound those parts with a meat mallet. They should be more or less uniformly thick so they cook evenly.
- Sprinkle the cutlets with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Heat 1-2 tablespoons of frying oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
- When hot, place your chicken in the pan.
- Cook on both sides until browned and cooked through. Check with a fork if the chicken shreds easily and it’s white in the middle.
- Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes then cut it into small cubes.
You could also cook the chicken breasts in a pan without cutting them in half but it would take much longer. Thinner cutlets cook quickly and will be uniformly moist.
There are many more methods to cook your chicken for chicken salad:
- You can grill the chicken – Grilled beer can chicken
- You can make shredded chicken in your Instant Pot or cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot
- You can cook the chicken in an Air Fryer
- Cook the chicken in a slow cooker
- Poach the chicken breasts
- You can roast chicken breasts (omit the lemon zest and thyme) or roast a whole chicken
Step by step instructions
STEP 1: Prepare your ingredients: chop cooked chicken into small cubes (or use shredded chicken if this is what you have), finely chop celery, cut the green onions into thin slices (only the white and light green part), give the green onions, cranberries, and pecans a rough chop, cut the apple into small cubes.
STEP 2: Make the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk the mayo, sour cream, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice.
STEP 3: Add all the ingredients for the salad into the bowl with dressing.
STEP 4: Toss to coat.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
How to serve this chicken salad
- as sandwiches – it tastes best with croissants
- as lettuce wraps – for a more calorie-friendly option
- use it as a filling for wraps
- tortilla roll-ups
- serve it with crackers or toast
- with pita bread
This cranberry chicken salad keeps very well. It tastes better after all the flavors have melded together. You can serve it at room temperature or cold.
Sandwiches with this cranberry chicken salad make a great make-ahead breakfast.
Keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Can chicken salad be frozen? Yes, it can be frozen for up to 3 months but it won’t taste good so I don’t recommend it!
Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!
Chicken Cranberry Salad
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- 3 cups chopped cooked chicken (small cubes) or 1 lb (450g) raw chicken breasts
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 2 green onions
- 1 stalk celery can be omitted
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts/almonds
- 1/2 apple
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 1/4 cup sour cream or mayo
- 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare your ingredients: chop cooked chicken into small cubes (or use shredded chicken if this is what you have), finely chop celery, cut the green onions into thin slices (only the white and light green part), give the green onions, cranberries, and pecans a rough chop, cut the apple into small cubes.
- In a large bowl, whisk the mayo, sour cream, Dijon mustard and lemon juice.
- Add all the ingredients for the salad into the bowl with dressing and toss to coat.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- If you have raw chicken breasts: you will need 1 lb (450g) chicken breasts. Just cut them in half horizontally so you have 4 thin cutlets. Season them with salt and pepper and cook over medium-high heat in a pan until browned on both sides and cooked through. Chop into small cubes.
- You can also use leftover roast chicken, rotisserie chicken, or leftover turkey.
- Storage: This cranberry chicken salad keeps very well. It tastes better after all the flavors have melded together. You can serve it at room temperature or cold. Keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. I don’t recommend freezing it.
- Calories: 1 serving (1/6 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!